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AN OPEN LETTER TO A BISHOP

Dear Bishop,

Greetings of Peace always!!

This is Brother Arnold Garbanzos. I am a CDP member. CDP stands for Centrist Democratic Party-a party with a Federal government platform. Our members include former Cory DILG Usec. Lito Lorenzana, Congressman Rufus Rodriguez (our national president) and CJ Reynato Puno. We are back up by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung of Germany-one of its staunch advocates.

I am glad you have organized the CAB Forum with the OPAPP but for me the presentation was a bit complicated as can be seen from the questions asked yesterday. As I said the quality of the questions reflect the quality of the presentation.

I am suggesting a more simplified and least expensive approach. It should be a comparative approach between Federalism and our current system so that people will understand it more easily. And it does not need to take a whole day. Even 3 hours would do and the concept can be explained easily.

Federalism has several guiding principles:

-Human dignity with integrity

-Decentralization

-Subsidiarity

-Rule of Law

-Professionalization of the party system

-Respect for culture

-Social Market Economy

-Transparency

-Self-reliance

-the Honor system-a system of reward and punishment

These principles are totally opposite to Unitarianism- where all of us have live and have been exposed to for centuries-both under our foreign conquerors and our own countrymen and thus you see the difficulty for most of in us understanding the concept.

MInd you Bishop true democracy does not come from a Unitary State where the Central Government is the most powerful in the land...no true democracy comes from a Federal State where all the provinces or states are as powerful as the Central Government and that is why America which is considered the greatest democracy today has a Federal set up and not a Unitary set-up. Makes you wonder why we deviated from their pattern as a Nation? Since it was them who established our Republic on the first place.

For your info Bishop under a Federal state there is no such thing as IRA, CDF, PDAF or DAP. Each region or state or province must exercise its own creativity and initiative to make his area live or survive. Dapat sariling sikap ang tanan. It takes away "palakasan" "bata-bata" and the "utang na loob" from a Central Government. Under Federalism the provinces or the states are more richer and more powerful than Malacanang.

The absence of the "DAP-PDAF-Hold up principle" is the one that will deter Congress and the Senate from approving this matter. They will lose all their "honored" privileges much to their consternation and dismay. The FOI Law will be very prominent under a Federal set-up, thus again our “ trapos” do not like this set-up. See the difficulty we have to go through to make this matter a reality. And that is why Pnoy has approved a lot of laws and bills lately but never FOI.

Under Federalism, the owner of the natural resources are the states or the provinces and not the central government, thus Lake Lanao under a Federal state belongs to Marawi and the Maranaos and not to NPC or NGCP nor Malacanang.

Under the Federal State in the context of the Bangsamoro it is not the politicians who are the most powerful but the traditional leaders who are formed as a Council (just like the Malaysian model), thus the Sultans, the Imams and the Datus take center stage in the set-up. The politicians cannot move unless they consult the traditional leaders to make sure that any decision they make in terms of governance would be consistent with the Hadiths, the Quran and the Ijma and Taritib (Constitution and By Laws) of the Tribe.

Theoretically and academically, you would be surprise to know that the principle of subsidiarity started with the Catholic Church-in effect what the Muslims are asking for is the application of a Catholic principle. Try googling the concept and you will find that it is linked to the Catholic Church Bishop.

Surprise will you greatly be when you know that God deals with Israel and its Tribes through this principle. He deals with them according to their peculiar needs and characteristics thus the declaration for Judah, Manasseh, Levi etc. are unique to each and everyone of them.

The present problem of the Bangsamoro is that every time they meet with the OPAPP it becomes a sort of Christian-Muslim dialogue. It must be remove from that context-this is not a question of religion. It is a government and management principle which for me is the best for our country because of our diverse culture and needs. Let us therefore help remove this issue from the context of Muslims and Christians and let the Christians defend the Muslims not because it is a good thing to do but because it is the right thing to do.

Thus today I am requesting the CDP national leadership (composed mostly of Christian leaders i.e. CJ Puno is a Methodist minister) to defend the cause of the Bangsamoro. In short I am asking the Christian Federal leaders to defend the Muslims-the principle of the Good Samaritan-and let Federalism succeed in our country.

Dili ni mu succeed Bishop nga endeavor unless the Christian leaders defend our Muslim brothers in their struggle for respect and self-determination. Please understand Bishop that eventually the Bangsamoro is basically a "theocratic state" where the Quran is the highest law and not the Constitution. This is totally opposite that of a democracy where most Christians (both nominal and true) are schooled and exposed.

There is a verse in the Quran Bishop which states, "Truly Allah will never change the condition of the people, unless they themselves change it" mao ni ang context sa entire Bangsamoro struggle-they are simply following and obeying this verse. And I see no reason why it should be wrong to follow and obey God/Allah.

Kindly take note Bishop that our Bangsamoro brothers are following the Malaysian model in their search for progress. They are not putting up a "caliphate" like Isis in Iraq nor are they imposing their religion on Christians since it is the Prophet's (pbuh) admonition to all Muslims that "there is no compulsion on religion". Islam is a very tolerant religion.

Kindly take note too Bishop that once the Bangsamoro is in place, our brothers would not be out killing Christians left and right-this notion is wrong. For this goes against the very verse of the Quran, which states, "whosoever kills a person unless it is for manslaugther or for mischief in the land, it is as though he has killed all mankind and whosoever saves the life of one, it is as if he has saved the life of all mankind". Also, "Lo Allah enjoineth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk and forbiddeth lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorteth you in order that you may take heed."

If there is a Christian City Bishop that should lead in defending the cause of the Muslims for Federalism, then it should be Iligan. Since Iligan is the "Birth Place of Federalism" in our country. It was for this reason that our lone representative then, the late Senator Tomas Cabili did not signed the 1935 Constitution-he wanted a Federal set-up for our nation while the rest of the country did not.

For your info Senator Tomas Cabili was a Presbetyrian, this you can see from his biography with the Department of National Defense (DND) website. He was in history the "Good Samaritan" par excellence as far as Philippine History is concerned.

Among the Christian leaders he is the most beloved among the Maranaos and thus he has been crowned as the "Great Sultan" or the Sultan Dimasangkay of the Maranao tribe. As a matter of fact the main avenue of Marawi which is known as Bangolo is officially known as Cabili Avenue in honor of this great man. A Christian surname in the midst of the only Islamic City in the country. As a matter of fact also- the Grand Mosque which you see in the middle of Marawi was made because of the late Senator's contributions.

For me Bishop, Tomas Cabili was not a local hero, he is a national hero-too bad Iligan has never worked on elevating his status to that level. And yet today no Iliganon has ever rose to the same status as he. After him we never had any Iliganon who rose to national prominence. No not one Iliganon among us has attained national prominence like him.

Today Iligan must be the "City of Good Samaritans" and defend our Muslim brothers in their Bangsamoro struggle. This is what we should endeavor to achieve, specially in your inter-faith organization where you are considered as a leader with a Maranao brother.

Let us be all Good Samaritans and transcend the boundaries of religion and pride. Let Iligan City, a predominantly Christian City defend the cause of the Muslims and thus aligned it with its destiny once more-a brother blessing a brother-both progenies of Ibrahim/Abraham (pbuh) the father of all nations.

Please take note Bishop too that among the Cities and Provinces of our nation only Iligan and Marawi are literal twins-we have been born from one Mother Province in the past to become two provinces and two cities-and yet we share a common umbilical cord-and that is the Lake and the Agus. We are therefore literal brothers in the truest sense of the word. Iligan must therefore defend Marawi in its aspirations to be a Federal state.

Take note too that should Marawi become part of a Federal State it becomes one of the richest City in the country-with water and energy-and at a 70-30% sharing scheme-Marawi will be a City far richer than most cities in our country today. And who will be the recipient of all of these riches? Definitely it will be Iligan.

Sometimes I wonder if the Bangsamoro were a Christian State would it encounter the same degree of opposition it has now? Will it encounter the same prejudice and discrimination?

It is time to rise up as a City Bishop, Iligan must be a good Samaritan-it is one of the greatest teaching of Jesus the Christ/Isa Al Masih (pbuh) and was practiced by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as can be gleaned from the Hadiths. As a matter of fact the first Mayor of Mecca after it was conquered by the Prophet (pbuh) was the Prophet's number one opposition and enemy-see how the principle of the good Samaritan applied to his life and thus united the entire Arab Peninsula under the banner of Islam.

Even in the Bible/Torah the first good Samaritan was Joseph the Dreamer, an Israeli sold by his own brothers, but eventually became a blessing to the entire Ishmaeli tribe of Egypt and eventually to his own brothers, thus raising his status from being a prisoner to being second in command to the Pharaoh and a great provider to his own people, Israel-despite of what they did to him. Thus his memory lives on for all eternity to remember. Allah has honored his life-because he bless both Israel and Ishmael.

Good day Bishop and God bless us all always!!

Brother Arnold Garbanzos



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